Last month, I attended NAHB’s midyear meeting in Miami and had the pleasure of sitting in on a presentation by Daniel Swift, president and CEO of Des Moines-based architecture group BSB Design.
Hire, train and retain
WCI manages human resources through strategic acquisitions.
WCI Communities, Inc.
Recruitment and Retention
In spite of rapid growth through acquisition and the expansion of existing businesses, WCI claims a 78 percent retention rate, quite remarkable when you consider that a large proportion of mergers fail because of a breakdown that often occurs when mixing two disparate cultures.
"We're very pleased about that, and it's not by accident," says Paul Appolonia, senior vice president of human resources.
In fact, WCI reports that its retention rate has drastically improved over the past four years.
"Our business development team and Jerry Starkey, our CEO, do an outstanding job in identifying potential acquisitions that fit our particular business niche," Appolonia says. "There is a lot of due diligence that goes into the process. We've passed on some acquisitions where we don't think it's the right fit."
In 2004, WCI made its first acquisition outside Florida when it purchased Spectrum Communities, an established builder serving the active-adult market and high-end luxury home market. In 2005, WCI acquired Renaissance Housing Corp., a wholly owned subsidiary serving the affluent homebuilding market.
Turnover has been minimal in companies WCI acquired.
"Sometimes people who work for a small company of less than 200 that's acquired by a company of more than 4,000 feel like they're going to get lost," says Appolonia. "But we've allowed them to maintain their sense of where they came from. Then they gradually learn what is expected of them from WCI."
Appolonia also credits the high retention rate to effective recruiting. WCI conducts multiple behavioral interviews for both cultural and technical fit. Each candidate must complete multiple assessments that provide insight on the candidates' decision-making, communication and leadership skills.
WCI also provides employee training through the WCI Learning Institute, a university-style development program that addresses every level of employee in every business unit. The WCI-LI's goal is to unify multiple development programs that stretch across diverse disciplines to develop and prepare employees for leadership roles within WCI.
"At times we were a very good recruiting ground for other companies," says Appolonia. "We have such an emphasis on training and development that larger companies were coming in and hiring away people. We determined that we were going to push even harder for recruiting and development, and retention.
"The rallying cry for our HR department is very simple. We're going to hire, train and retain. Hire, train and retain in all cases."
View the Professional Builder Great Workplaces 2006 Profiles:
- WCI Communities
- Pulte Homes
- Pardee Homes